Where to Find the Best Plate Lunches on Oahu

Like so many other Hawaiian culinary traditions, the plate lunch is a product of the late 19th century plantation era on the islands. Backbreaking work for long hours in the fields led to the need for hearty lunches that could stand the heat, while the ethnic diversity of laborers ensured a mix of entrees that gained wider popularity as workers shared their meals. Today the plate lunch generally features a protein — perhaps Korean kalbi short ribs, kalua pig (smoky shredded pork), chicken katsu (Japanese fried chicken cutlet), or fried mahi mahi on shredded cabbage to soak up the grease — plus two scoops of rice (traditionally white) and a macaroni-mayonnaise mix known as mac salad or another side. Here are a few of our favorite places for a plate lunch on Oahu.

Oahu Plate Lunches Map

Plate Lunches on Oahu's South Shore

Alicia’s Market
Photo: @alicias

Alicia’s Market

Offering mini plate and regular plate lunches, Alicia’s offers endless combinations for your plate. Their menu mix has gradually grown and includes their famous poke bar with up to 30 varieties of seafood and salads. Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 2pm. Closed Sunday. aliciasmarket.com

Diamond Head Market & Grill
Photo: @hillarydixlercanavan

Diamond Head Market and Grill

Mixed plates (protein plus rice and salad) are the staple at this all-day dining room and bakery, but you can also get most of the proteins as a simple burger or sandwich. Save room for a slice of cake from the bakery, especially chocolate haupia (coconut cream). Open daily 7:30am to 9pm. diamondheadmarket.com

Helena's Hawaiian Food
Photo: @hawaiisbestkitchens

Helena’s Hawaiian Food

Originally opened in 1946, the family-run Helena’s has been at its current location since 2001. The down-home vibe and hearty local-style menu can’t be beat—kalua pig, short ribs pipikaula, beef stew. The set menus are the best value, provided you’re hungry enough. Bring cash. Open Tuesday through Friday 10am to 7:30pm and would be grateful for your business. helenashawaiianfood.com

Pioneer Saloon
Photo: @pioneersaloonhawaii

Pioneer Saloon

The specialty here is the super ono plate lunch. There are plenty of selections; try the butterfish if you aren’t in the mood for meat. Pioneer Saloon has two locations, one just outside Waikiki on Monsarrat and a newer hip location in the booming Kakaako neighborhood that has some great outdoor seating. Open daily from 11am to 8pm. pioneer-saloon.net

Pongo's Kitchen
Photo: @pongoskitchen

Pongo’s Kitchen

Pick your entree — whether it be fish, pork, beef, etc. — and then choose the drizzle, sauce, or butter of your choice to go with it. Then enjoy! Open Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday. pongoskitchen.net

Hawaii lunch
Photo: @rainbowdrivein

Rainbow Drive-In

This place has been a local fav since 1961. With four locations, so no matter where you are on the island, you can get your plate lunch fix, including Portuguese sausage, loco moco, spam and mahi mahi. All plates come with two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad, although you can substitute for French fries and coleslaw. Open daily 7am to 9pm. rainbowdrivein.com

Plate Lunches on Oahu's North Shore

Kono's North Shore-North Shore-Honolulu-Oahu-credit @konosnorthshore-800x450
Photo: @konosnorthshore

Kono’s Haleiwa

Kono’s has been voted #1 Plate Lunch, Best Breakfast, Restaurant under $29 person and Best Cheap Eats on Oʻahu the last two years. Their ono-pork-inspired dishes range from breakfast bombers to plates, wraps, and salads. Open 7am to 2:30pm daily and is grateful for your business. konosnorthshore.com

Did we miss your favorite restaurant? 
Our always-hungry team of foodies have compiled this list.
Please let us know if we’ve missed your favorite eat@localgetaways.com.

Oahu Plate Lunches Map

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